The waxy corn lines developed through CRISPR-editing by Corteva Agriscience are agronomically superior to waxy hybrids produced by breeding. According to a study published in Nature Biotechnology by Huirong Gao et al., they give on average 5.5 bushels per acre higher yields.
The results of field trials at 25 locations in the US showed that CRISPR and improved transformation technologies have the potential to shorten the time to market and to eliminate the yield drag due to the undesirable genetic baggage introduced by breeding.
Corteva’s waxy corn is the first CRISPR plant ready for commercial growing, possibly bearing the honor (and burden) of probing the US market. USDA has concluded that the CRISPR-waxy corn is out of the scope of regulatory oversight over GMOs. Argentina, Brasil and Chile did the same, but over-regulation is still a real risk in Europe.
Waxy corn starch is almost zero amylose and 100% amylopectin. This is useful in papermaking, adhesive production, and also as a stabilizer and thickener in the food industry.
Here’s how Neal Gutterson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Corteva, explained his company’s role in the CRISPR revolution. And here’s where Doane Chilcoat, also from Corteva, argues that CRISPR-waxy corn demonstrates the power of gene editing and provides a case study for regulators and the public.